Thursday, March 28, 2013



I. Energy Efficiency

Is your home well constructed by having continuous air barrier, reduced drafts and air penetration? Ideally, a reflective barrier is under your roof and above the insulation. Snug-tight construction. Seal around all pipes, gaps, doors and windows. Insulation should be code required R-value or greater and with contact of the air barrier to prevent air movement. Also, insulation has to be Indoor Air Quality Certified or manufactured from at least 75% recycled content. Your HVAC system should be the “perfect size” for your cooling square footage for best performance and efficiency of equipment. Bigger equipment is not necessary and may even cause humidity and cost more electricity.
The electrical hard wired system should be at least 60% compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) lights that reduce energy consumption.
Use dimmer switches for non-fluorescent fixtures.
Windows should be dual glazed (double paned) or install the low-E emissivity window. Low-E windows have a thin metal coating that allows light but inhibits thermal heat gain.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013



Time was the architect as the only person to engage with when planning to build. However, with the changing times, i.e. sustainable design, renewable energy, seismic design, soil design, concrete design, lighting design, design/build, etc., it has become more and more apparent that designers are special and are specializing in a specific field of construction as demand is growing with consumer awareness. In the past architects did most everything including light planning. Today, light design experts are in cultural demand, engaging in creating solutions. Good design and low energy will no longer be an oxymoron. Experience and memory will be recognized design values. Cost has been a key driver, other factors such as risk, energy use, and the cost of maintenance now drive solutions.
Knowledge (book smart) may be what is necessary for an architect to achieve his degree, but without hands-on building skills, he lacks an important part of an architectural education.
There becomes a disconnect between drawing something and building it. Hands-on experience cannot be taught in a classroom or with a computer. Design improves with lessons learned the hard way thru every fa├žade of the construction industry. Today, the design/build evolution has proven to be the leading choice for a good design with follow thru and is an amazing industry producing amazing results. Knowing engineering also gives an added edge to a well designed project. Today, a licensed structural engineer is required for most plans designed by an architect. This leaves the architect or designer to only create the set of plans and provide city plan services. Other design experts are required energy codes, geology, mechanical and electrical . . . to mention a few. Not all architects or designers are created equal. Being a book smart and like to draw is one thing, to have a license is another. But to be a “right-brainer” has proven a God-given talent gives a good quality design and is definitely recognized. The left hemisphere of our brain is associated with analyzing details, performing mechanical calculations and more engineering part of our thinking. The right hemisphere is the synthesizer, seeing the “big picture” and is creative part of our intellect. Creative thinkers (right-brainers) will be how design will rule the future. High-concept and high-touch aptitudes are moving from the periphery of our lives to the center. Design has permeated every aspect of life and the psychology of consumer. Preferences drives creative design.
It may not be “political correct” to ask a designer if he or she is left-handed, but what is the difference asking if licensed!
Perhaps, what is needed is the eastern concept of Shoshihn, translated as “beginner’s mind”. An attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The best artist practi9ce Shoshihn without knowing the term.
A good designer will be yours rather than only being solicited and appreciated by a knowing elite.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Raise-Up and Double Your Space in Less Time, and a Lot Less Cost than Adding a Second Story

Raise-Up and Double Your Space in Less Time, and a Lot Less Cost than 
Adding a Second Story

Moving houses has been a dying business until now. With the environmental and friendly green awareness, the industry has new life  . . .  Raising Up Homes for Added Space you need. Reuse the existing home and raise up on a new first floor plan constructed of sustainable materials and green products will minimize your carbon footprint and cut down your utility bills.

If your home is more than 20 years old, chances are it does not meet the latest seismic code requirements. We live in an earthquake country so our structural codes require shear walls, hold downs and various other engineering requirements. These necessities will likely mean that a large part of the existing home will need to be demolished for added structural strength required to support a second story.

Most architects, designers and engineers recommend demolishing the existing structure due to the code changes that are required. For example, underpinning the existing foundation, adding shear wall (plywood) to the existing walls and removing the stucco and/or interior drywall, adding hold downs and supports within the existing floor plan, and opening up walls, ceiling and floors for the new required seismic strength to the structure. Quite expensive to do. It would have been better to demolish the existing house and completely build a new residence which will substantially increase property taxes.

An alternative concept is to raise the existing house and build a new first floor under it. Saving a big percent of added cost by not having to redo most of the existing structure than setting it back down on to the all new code required footings, walls and foundation. It is a lot cheaper and much faster construction time, keeping your temporary rent cost down. In one project, the client saved approximately $130,000 with this method and doubled the square footage over the typical conventional way of construction (adding a second story over the existing story).

By Raising Up the house, a savings of approximately 30% of construction cost plus saving the environment with at least 3 times less carbon and trash than building new construction . . . so save the house, save money plus, go Green by respecting the old while alive with the new.


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